back to article House bill: 'Hey NASA, that asteroid retrieval plan? Fuggedaboutit'

If the Republican-led House Subcommittee on Space has its way, NASA's proposed asteroid-retrieval mission will be killed, the agency's budget will be capped for the next two years at about 5 per cent less than last year's, and NASA's Earth observation efforts will be cut back. In addition, Congressional control over the choice …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Captain DaFt


    To Mars! No, the Moon then Mars! Nah, stick with the ISS! Scrap the ISS, We're going to MARS! Stop! check out asteroids first! No no no! To the Moon then Mars!

    Somebody seriously needs to put Congress on Ritalin!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flip-flop

      The UK has been through this kind of thing before, in the 1950's we were the technological kings in aviation and the nuclear industry. Successive labour Governments killed all that off mostly because they didn't understand. Now we've got the possibility of a Labour Government in 2015 where 80% of their candidates are Union officials.

      That will stifle industry.

      Good luck USA, but you will find your country playing second fiddle in the next few years if you don't see the light.

      1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

        Re: Flip-flop

        Too late. The PRC is already producing more scientists and engineers than the US is. They're also essentially the world's manufacturing base. Quite soon, they'll not need to spy and steal designs, they'll be postured to be the R&D and manufacturing capitol of the world.

        Years ago, Reagan suggested we turn into an R&D center for the world. Bush the Greater decided to move us to a service economy.

        The problem with a service economy is one is servicing oneself and not generating profit. An R&D economy could have licensed all manner of new designs and products to be produced by whoever wishes to build them.

        1. Rattus Rattus

          Re: Flip-flop

          "one is servicing oneself"


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flip-flop

      The Chinese will show you how it's done, and that makes me sad.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Flip-flop

        The Chinese will show you how it's done, and that makes me sad.

        Sad to some extent, but outweighed by great happiness that at least someone will be doing it.

        Personally I really don't care if the inventor of the warp drive is Chinese, as long as it gets invented!

      2. mmeier

        Re: Flip-flop

        Without anything to copy the Chinese will not get any further than "cheap copy of Sojus/Apollo/Shuttle" made from "aquired plans" either

        1. Yag

          "Without anything to copy..."

          Yes, sure, it's not like they invented or discovered anything through the ages.

          Yes, sure, it's not like you can expect quite some intelligent and creative people in a billion-strong population.

          1. mmeier

            Re: "Without anything to copy..."

            In the last 100+ years? What?

            1. Tom 13

              Re: In the last 100+ years? What?

              Well, we've got Maoism and the Great Leap Forward.


              Oh, you mean beneficial advancements. Well, in that case no.

    3. The Axe

      Re: Flip-flop

      Just shows why you should never have politicians in charge or anything. They have no long term plan other than getting re-elected. They have no interest in the people except to use them for votes. They have no pride in their country except to make their own egos bigger. Scrap all politicians, they are just a waste of space. They should be on the B-Ark.

      1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

        Re: Flip-flop

        Regrettably, you are far off of the mark. Their egos are up there in their considerations, however, the special interests that pumped in over 8 billion dollars in campaign contributions in the last Congressional race and a like amount in the Presidential race are of paramount interest. Lest they lose the source of their campaign funding in favor of someone who will tend to their master's wishes and desired.

        Hence, the blocking of Earth Science, lest further evidence of climate change be revealed.

        In the military, we had an old joke. "When the revolution comes, the VA is against the wall right after Congress."

        Yes, the US military.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Flip-flop

        "They should be on the B-Ark."

        That might cause riots among the telephone handset sanitizers. They have have their standards.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flip-flop

      Interesting subject, and I agree people who think the earth is 5000 or 10000 years old should not exist, and not be elected to any office. The funny thing is that Americans seem to be pissed off with Washington taking all their money, but at the same time the Army, the Navy, the Air Force are given all that money from Washington and that is OK. Cut the military by 50% and NASA could do something important even considering the defence in the future.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Flip-flop

        There are plenty (read lots) of people who are very opposed to the ridiculous DoD budget. Only madmen and those poor souls who are in fear of [bad guy] approve of our perpetual war footing. The amount of FUD surrounding defense spending is phenomenal though and that's the problem.

        The big radio station here in DC, WTOP, runs crazy adverts every year during Congressional budget time. There are f'ing ads for advanced missile systems, armored troop transports, aircraft, the list just keep going. The ads are accompanied by serious voice overs telling the public how "our troops and our safety depend on the latest advances in war fighting technology developed by [global_corp]". "Contact your Congressman today and tell them to support the [explodey_thing] contract. Your safety depends on it."

        Our own government and its defense contractors are terrorizing the population with stuff like this. When the machine has become so powerful it scares even those who are supposed to be managing it things have gone terribly pear shaped. Until these fears can be overcome I don't believe DoD spending will be reduced.

        On that note, I think it is hilarious, in a sad way, that it's illegal to advertise tobacco or alcohol on the radio but if you want to sell a goddamn tank or missile system it's all Hell Yeah.

  2. Doug Bostrom

    Stasis guaranteed

    Whipsawing NASA on an annual basis will ensure that we go exactly nowhere.

    1. MacroRodent

      Re: Stasis guaranteed

      If it goes on like this in the USA, the next men on the Moon will certainly be Chinese. They appear to be working determinedly on developing manned space capability.

      1. AndrewG

        Re: Stasis guaranteed

        The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

        NASA's current space capability is roughly where it was in 1962 in real terms

        They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc - so they are starting from scratch and they'll never get the wherewithal to overtake China

        Never-mind that the asteroid mission would give NASA valuable experience in long distance teleoperation, conditions outside Earths Magnetosphere and care and feeding of high isp drives - Congress decided its a detour so away it goes, and now were back to fiddling around on the moon (which pretty much has no point unless your planning a permanent settlement) which will provide sod-all experience at getting to Mars (they only thing they really have in common is they aren't on Earth)

        Thats also 8 astronauts that are essentially out of a job on their second day of work - I wonder if they can lodge a hostile workplace grievance?

        1. The lone lurker

          Re: Stasis guaranteed

          The Saturn 5 blueprints still exist, as do the plans for the Ford model T. The primary issue is that the huge Saturn 5 assembly lines and in some cases the manufacturers themselves simply do not exist anymore.

          The cost to start fabricating Saturn 5's again would never be funded... Unless there's another country threatening to beat them to it again!

          If funding wasn't diverted from the Saturn 5 program in the 1970's in favor of the Shuttle it would have been possible to assemble the ISS in only five launches!

        2. gardening
          Thumb Up

          Re: Stasis guaranteed

          Quite agree with you.

        3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: Stasis guaranteed

          "They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc - so they are starting from scratch and they'll never get the wherewithal to overtake China"

          That's a UL. The schematics exist and are IIRC in a warehouse in Kansas City.

          The Moon could like deep space give experience of long term closed loop life support and (possibly) the use of small(ish) nuclear reactor power systems.

          But so could the asteroid mission. What it can't give is experience of work well outside the Earth Moon system.

          But your right trouble comes when the Legislature sets the goals.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stasis guaranteed

            Actually, copies of the specs for the F1 engines are in Hutchinson, where the recovered F1 engines are being conserved.


        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

          Maybe. Is the Chinese State really all that interested in space, or is it that they want to show how rich and clever they are. After all, once upon a time the US seemed rather interested in space, but now ...

          I reckon that there's a pretty good chance that once the Chinese have done something important sounding (man on the moon, whatever), they'll give up on the adventurous stuff and stick to pissing about in low orbit like the rest, maybe sending the odd science probe out to here or there.

          And anyway,. better the Chinese, than nobody at all.

          1. Grikath

            Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

            The chinese will want a base on the moon. It's easy to throw rice from there..

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

              ... and silly people will congregate where it will land.

              Fair Dinkum, tovarich.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

              **The chinese will want a base on the moon. It's easy to throw rice from there.**

              ...or rocks.

          2. Yag

            Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

            The US seemed rather interested in space for two main reasons :

            - Because of the other use of rockets. You know, the one with the funny explosive devices on top.

            - Because the other side was beating them to it.

            You may think "FOR SCIENCE!" should be in the list, but it was probably not considered very important...

            Now, the question is... Why are the chineese interested in space? i'ld say the first reason still apply for them, but i'ld also wager that they are planning long term exploitation of space-based ressources.

        5. Tom 13

          Re: They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc

          No they didn't. They just couldn't find them for a while. If you've ever seen a government inventory control system you'd understand how it happens. About 5 years back they found them again. But even at that, we'd be better off engineering a new system. An orbital station from which Moon missions are launched would be better for long term planetary exploration anyway. Build the transit vehicles and engines in orbit, then gather fuel from either the Moon or asteroids. Less gravity tax getting it there that way.

        6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Stasis guaranteed

          "They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc"

          Even if that were true, what use would they be? It'd be like starting with the plans for a Ford Model T with the intention of building a Ferrari.

      2. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge

        Re: Stasis guaranteed

        Looking at the Congresscritters involved, I don't think they're concerned, as I can't help they nagging suspicion that their thought processes run along the line "The Rapture will happen before then".

  3. raving angry loony


    Is this the same "science" committee that is led by a life-long creationist Republican who doesn't actually "believe" in science, and thinks that some goat-herding stone-age tribe had it right and 6000 years of scientific progress has it all wrong? Or was that another US "science" committee?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same?

      "thinks that some goat-herding stone-age tribe"

      To be fair, they were iron-age. The oldest parts of the Bible only go back to about 800-600 BC; the book of Daniel only to about 150BC. Still a load of rubbish, like, but relatively recent rubbish.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Same?

        Yes, but those tales are based on earlier very similar fairy tales. Perhaps one could say it was science then, "who are we, where did we come from, where are we going". We still ask the same questions, but the problem with religion is that as soon as the priests got the power they had to stick to the old tales to stay in power. That is where science broke free. For the church (any) it has been about walking on a thin line trying to keep both the power and the tales. But more recent rubbish we find from "modern" times with rubbish like Mormons and Scientology and what not.

  4. Doug Bostrom

    What about incidental data?

    Presumably if satellites incidentally collects data that might be used for climate research they too will be for the chopping block? Do these morons understand the overlap in data collection? Why do I bother asking?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Self fulfilling prophecy?

    Religious types (AKA Republicans) don't worry too much about science as 'god' has their back.

    They think that 'god' will end the world (many think its started).

    So IF a planet killer did hit us, then they would say it was 'god's' will/plan. Not some random space missile hurtling unchecked through space.

    Trouble is, most people on this rock are neither Republican, American or even Christian.

    It's probably true to say the whole World relies on the USA for serious space adventures*

    * less so every day

  6. Anonymous Coward

    It's a shame

    I was having visions of them solving the radiation exposure problem by hollowing out a large enough asteroid for Earth-Mars trips.

    Plus maybe using a captured asteroid to see off the big one before it hits earth.

    Ah well, as others have said above - time to look at the Chinese vision of the future.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: It's a shame

      "I was having visions of them solving the radiation exposure problem by hollowing out a large enough asteroid for Earth-Mars trips."

      It may not look very sleek but there's a lot to be said for being inside a large fresh water tank inside about 10m of rock

      It's radiation protection level is formidable

      But, no, that's not what Con-gress wants.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    If you are looking for a group of something you havent previously seen, how can you know you have found 95% of it???

    THE US's various arms of government are getting so short sighted they will be ditching funding to buy aircon (during the winter) and heating (during the summer) as they cannot see an immediate use for them

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Question

      In the UK, you can cancel the air conditioning in winter and be certain you won't need it for ten years.

      Mine's the parka.

  8. Anomalous Cowshed

    Forget about space

    We still ain't done with our Invasion Programme, and this cash is needed for the campaign against Iranthe next terroristic country, which we are in the process of discovering is behind most of the evils affecting our world.

    1. andy k O'Croydon

      The next terroristic country

      I believe that will be Durka-Durkastan.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Remember people "authorization" means precisely b***er all.

    It's the Appropriations act that dishes out the real cash.

    There will also be a Senate version of this and the White house will have a version as well.

    Do you ever feel that the idea in "Eagle Eye" for a decapitation strike on the US leadership's only flaw

    was it didn't take out the Congress and Senate as well?

    Issiah Berlin's comment about "negative" and "positive" freedom seems rarely more obvious.

  10. Anomalous Cowshed

    What really happened

    Hello? Congressman X? Yes? This is [Hollywood Studio]. It has recently come to our attention that your space agency, what's their name? Ah, yes, Nasa, are trying to muscle in on one of our inventions. You will of course need little reminding of the Bruce Willis v Asteroid case, in which the United States Film Industry established an implied patent in our favour.

  11. Rustident Spaceniak

    Farmers, accountants, lawyers

    These are exactly the sorts of people you a) don't expect to understand, or need to understand, about space science, and b) will stick to a goal once set, without bothering to check if tthe driving forces have changed, or if the stated goal is even still achievable or desirable. So don't ever expect those people to be sympathetic to NASA's changed plans - unless of course some of the Asteroid hunting happens to bring business to their constituencies, in which case there's suddently a good scientific reason to do it. But wait, that's political science, not space science? Oh what the heck, don't even bother!

  12. Christoph

    Hey look we can prove climate change is rubbish - you haven't produced any more research to support it, ever since we cut all your funding to do the research!

  13. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Why not

    Just cut the funding for a carrier battleground and theres more than enough cash for NASA with some left over

    After all being able to field 8 carrier battlegroups vs the rest of the world's 3 carrier battle groups means theres some overkill here.....

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Why not

      Absolutely not! We must have several fleets, each capable of destroying entire countries, ready to go at all times. We must be able to deliver democracy at any time to any place. If we wait too long we might pass the sell by date on all the democracy we have loaded up.

  14. izntmac

    GIve NASA a Mission and let them Stick to It

    The political process keeps spinning NASA out of control. NASA needs to get us back to the Moon and on to Mars with manned space flight. Also maybe a trip to an asteroid would be nice. NASA also needs to develop its own manned spacecrafts and own set of rockets. Space telescopes and the Earth observation also need to be kept. NASA wavers with each budget bill. Space needs long term goals with checks on the cost.NASA also needs to be able to innovate. Set some goals, fund them, and stick to them! Don't change them every political battle.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: GIve NASA a Mission and let them Stick to It


      Give NASA a 10 year budget and have the Legislature stick to it.

      Let NASA figure out the mission.

  15. Evan Essence


    Maybe the Taliban can knock some sense into the Yanks in the forthcoming talks.

    1. ian 22

      Re: Taliban

      Sorry Evan, but against stupidity even Allah contends in vain. If only the congress would be content to engage in harmless things, such as the weekly vote to repeal obamacare (37 times at last count).

  16. mIRCat

    Come on!

    It's fucking space! It's big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space and if you think getting out there will be cheap you're doing it wrong.

    So what's a few billion between agencies when you can just print out more! You're already in debt and throwing money at programs that probably won't matter in one hundred years, but space! I mean come on! It's space!

  17. MachDiamond Silver badge


    The Chinese have the "vision" right now. Thorium reactor development and a manned space program. The US is lagging way behind the Russians these days in space and gave up finding a safer nuclear power option.

    The Soyuz isn't the most elegant tech, but it's a work horse with an impressive record. The Senate Launch System (SLS) might wind up on the scrapheap in a few more years just like Ares. The goals dictated to NASA change with each major election. It's no wonder they can't get much done. It was great when they could at least educate and excite school kids in science and engineering. That's gone with the last pass of the scythe.

    The problems aren't with a particular political party. The problems is with the politicians. It's past obvious that they are bought and paid for. I'm sure in the next couple of years, the companies that bought them will proudly state it on their Farcebook pages without repercussions.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    It's only an Authorization bill and it's a *dratt" bill

    Draft. A small nasty leak of wind you want to get rid of.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like